Olmsted Asian Garden
Restoration & Repurposing

About the project

In 1916, Percival Gallagher – a principal architect at the Olmsted Brothers Firm – designed this garden to fulfill the request of Elm Bank’s owners for a water garden. At the time of design, this garden contained 198 taxa – or types – of plants, mainly consisting of woody trees and shrubs. In the 84 years between the death of Elm Bank’s original owners and the beginning of this project, a few of these selections have become invasive or aggressive in the wetland surrounding the garden and canal, creating a need for significant historic and ecological restoration.


Project Objectives

The Olmsted Asian Garden project currently aims to mobilize both professional and volunteer resources to assist with the management of invasive species without the use of mechanized equipment or herbicides.

We hope to use this project to engage and involve the public in landscape restoration and the benefits of horticulture for health and wellness.


What We're Working On (Phase 1)
  • Removing dangerous and diseased hemlock along the canal
  • Using dead wood to build biodiversity hedges along the borders of the woodland
  • Remove certain invasive species by hand (cutting & pulling)
  • Eradicating herbaceous invasives using targeted placement of silage tarps and subsequent reseeding
  • Using existing landscape elements and archival sources to learn more about what the garden looked like and how it was used
What We Have Planned (Phase 2)
  • Removal of large standing and downed hazard trees
  • Seeding of no-mow grass blends to stabilize soils until until further design work is completed
  • Construction of a temporary walking path around the pond
  • Development of a wetland boardwalk along the canal
  • Continued research and implementation of low-impact invasive and aggressive species removal
  • Development of a reentry program to train those with barriers to employment in horticultural and ecological skills
  • Continued community outreach, including volunteer days

Volunteer on the Olmsted Asian Garden

Invasive Plants to be

Removed in Phase 1

English ivy (Hedera helix)
Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
Glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula)
Winged euonymus (Euonymus alatus)
Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
Honeysuckles (Lonicera morrowii and tartarica)
Norway maple (Acer platanoides)
Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolate)

Work Zones

plan outline for web-1


16May22_Pond View

View of the Pond

May 16, 2022


Uncovered Flagstones

September 17, 2022


Katsura (Cercidiphyllum)

September 23, 2022

30Oct22_Pond View

View of the Pond

October 30, 2022

13Dec22_Pond View

View of the Pond

December 13, 2022

15Dec22_Dead Hedge

Dead Hedge

December 15, 2022

Get Involved

There are many ways to participate in the Olmsted Asian Garden Restoration & Repurposing. Join the Volunteer Conservation Corps or donate today!

Read about the Olmsted Asian Garden Restoration & Repurposing in these

articles by Beals + Thomas and MHS Executive Director James Hearsum.

Originally published in MHS members-only newsletter, Leaflet, April 2022.